Robust characters populate a crafty and entertaining whodunit.

SOMEBODY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

A woman moves into her late aunt’s Florida home but learns a killer may be lurking in the neighborhood in this murder mystery.

Dawn Andersen and her parents are understandably distraught over Aunt Amy’s murder in South Florida. But after the Ohio family heads to Amy’s cottage in Manatee Beach, 25-year-old Dawn thinks she’s found her new home. Her parents—who now own the house—reluctantly let her move in, especially because authorities have arrested the person they believe is Amy’s killer. Dawn quits her job in Columbus but isn’t even settled into her new home when she spots a hulking figure loitering in the vicinity. Later discovering that this person is her next-door neighbor does nothing to ease her anxiety. Unfortunately, it soon turns out the alleged murderer has an alibi, and police initially connect two other deaths with Amy’s, both before and after the homicide. As Dawn makes friends among Manatee Beach residents, as well as a potential enemy or two, she looks for answers in evidence as different as the “mysterious man” in her aunt’s life and a possible link between Amy and at least one of the other victims. Most disturbing of all, however, is the likelihood that the murderer is someone in the small Florida community. Moore (Murder at the Country Club, 2018, etc.) excels at character development. Dawn is a smashing protagonist who’s trusting but not naive and who doesn’t abide insolence, including that of the postal carrier who litters his discourse with sexist epithets, such as “girlie.” But the neighborhood comprises numerous well-rounded characters, making it all the more difficult for readers to identify the killer. A subplot involving someone in a (probable) romance with Dawn isn’t fully developed, although this hardly affects the solid mystery. Moore’s pithy writing ably couples the small-scale setting with an often moody environment. For example, tension rises in the final act, which unfolds during an impending—and then full-blown—storm, complete with a power failure and resultant darkness.

Robust characters populate a crafty and entertaining whodunit.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-70789-975-3

Page Count: 428

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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The first of Woods’ many collaborations to be unquestionably inferior to his solo performances.

JACKPOT

CIA operative–turned-killer Teddy Fay, aka Hollywood producer Billy Barnett, gets his fifth sort-of-starring role in a splashy, muddled thriller set in Macau.

Centurion Studios president Ben Bacchetti and his partner, director Peter Barrington, see no reason why their visit to the Macau Film Festival should be all business. They’re dismayed when their visit to a baccarat table at the Golden Desert Casino and Resort is used as material for a deep-fake video that seems to show them cheating. The video, which has evidently been engineered by Bing-Wen “Bingo” Jo, bids fair drag them into the iron grip of fearsome media/casino mogul Arrow Donaldson, for whom Bingo works off the books on matters concerning digital technology and violence. But Centurion producer Teddy, who’s every bit the equal of Bingo and Donaldson fixer Zhou "Ziggy" Peng put together, is on the case. His improbable sometime partners are Li Feng, the heiress and CFO of QuiTel who’s fighting to keep her company exempt from the U.S. blacklist of competing Chinese telecom corporations suspected of spying, and Millie Martindale, a CIA administrator who’s a lot more resourceful than most administrators you’ll ever meet. The first partnership between Woods and Quertermous is full of casino underlings, biddable cops, fake shootings, and doubles living and dead. But the plot never thickens, and readers confident that Teddy will live to fight, pressure, cheat, and kill another day may be indifferent to the fate of the nefarious forces arrayed against him.

The first of Woods’ many collaborations to be unquestionably inferior to his solo performances.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18845-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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